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Follett to Install Sprout POD Machines in Stores
Steven M. Zeitchik -- 4/3/00

Emphasizing the need for quick access to a broad range of titles, Sprout and Follett announced a partnership in which the college bookseller will install on-demand machines in select store locations on August 1.

Follett will begin by putting the machines in two locations, one on the West Coast and one on the East. The bookseller will also install a machine in its River Grove, Ill., warehouse. More store installations could be in the offing. "We think the application is great for our environment, but we want to put a few out and verify that what we're thinking is true," said Follett spokeperson Gary Shapiro. The college market is a particularly appealing venue for on-demand printing, given the fast rate at which textbooks are updated.

In addition to an on-demand machine, Sprout provides a Web interface and print books to bookstores, allowing customers to browse for titles. Sprout equips special-order desks with information for consumers. The company hopes to have 10,000 titles available over the next few months and as many as 15,000 by the end of the year. It said that the customers can receive a printed book just 15 minutes after it is ordered. Sprout stressed its ability to bring books from small publishers to the attention of consumers. "There are many books whose demand is too low for retailers to put them on a physical shelf. We can get them into stores on a digital shelf," said Sprout's Ashley Gordon.

Nearly every major retailer has a relationship with an on-demand publisher or printer. B&N owns a 49% stake in o-d publisher iUniverse and Borders has an agreement with Sprout as well as a Sprout machine in its Ann Arbor headquarters. Only technical bookseller J.A. Majors currently features machines in stores.
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